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Tanishq store in Doha, Qatar

Adorning the Diaspora

A strong market demand among expats and its reputation as a trusted brand are driving Tanishq’s global expansion strategy

April 2024     |     1554 words     |     6-minute read

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The Indian diaspora — the world’s largest — is now more than 29 million. Increased affluence, proliferation of the internet, ease of travel and economic opportunity have exponentially increased exposure to Indian culture around the world, more so among those who have migrated or trace their ancestry back to the Indian subcontinent.

This presents a huge opportunity for Indian jewellery brands, given the diaspora’s affinity and appetite for fine jewellery. So, it’s no wonder that Tanishq, India’s leading brand in this space, is stepping up its international presence to ensure that this need is met in style.

Starting with one boutique in Dubai in 2020, the company has since expanded to 15 stores spread across the UAE, Qatar, the US and Singapore in the last 12 months. Based on market feedback, Tanishq is optimistic about its growth trajectory and plans to have 20 international stores and a turnover of `1,000 crore by the end of FY24. “By 2026, we will continue our expansion to 40-50 stores, following the Indian diaspora around the world,” says Kuruvilla Markose, Chief Executive Officer, International Business, Tanishq. “The countries we are looking at include Oman, Bahrain, Malaysia, the UK, Canada and Australia in the next two years. We are aiming to contribute 5% of Tanishq’s total revenue from these markets.”

The first Tanishq store in Sharjah, UAE opened in November 2023

Dubai, and then the world

Dubai, the City of Gold, has a long and storied history as a destination for buying gold and jewellery, and is home to 2.5 million expat Indians. Tanishq considered it the perfect city to kickstart its international expansion strategy. Since its first store in 2020, Tanishq has rapidly expanded in the region, opening six more stores in Dubai, including a Mia by Tanishq, and a flagship store in Abu Dhabi. The company entered Qatar by opening two stores on the same day in October 2023.

“All of our stores opened to a rousing reception with the general refrain being — ‘What took Tanishq so long to get here?’,” says Mr Markose. Even in a competitive market like the UAE, the opportunity to grow is immense — customers were missing the kind of superior craftsmanship, exquisite designs and customer experience that Tanishq offers. All stores in the region have multilingual in-store associates who can serve customers in-person or through a video consultation.

While the company says it is currently targeting the Indian diaspora, it has also started developing designs for non-Indian customers, especially in the UAE, where it has launched two collections inspired by Arabic motifs. It has also tweaked store designs keeping in mind local preferences, like in the case of its boutiques in Qatar. “A private room has been added to our offering to cater to cultural sensitivities, but also the specific needs of our discerning customers in Qatar who covet discretion and like to make informed decisions in the comfort of their own space,” says Mr Markose.

Growing footprint

In January 2023, Tanishq decided to tap into the opportunity presented by the ~4.4 million Indian diaspora in the US and opened its first boutique in New Jersey’s Little India. There is a very large and prominent Indian American presence in the state, and the company spent two years studying the ~$70 billion American jewellery market, particularly the Indian diaspora buying Indian jewellery, before opening its first store there.

According to Mr Markose, the North American market is still underserved with many Indian and South Asian communities relying on local mom and pop stores or trips to India for their jewellery — a gap that Tanishq is looking to capitalise on. Additionally, even as Indians continue to make their mark in their adopted country — they are the highest-earning ethnic group in the US — their affinity towards their roots continues to grow and they seek Indian brands that help them express this.

“The consumer response to Tanishq in all these countries has been nothing less than heart-warming” - Kuruvilla Markose

Texas has the second largest Indian diaspora in the US, so it’s no wonder that the company chose to expand its footprint by opening its next two stores in Houston and Frisco, near Dallas, in November 2023. In the same month, it also opened its first store in Singapore, which it views as a gateway nation for the Southeast Asian market.

The two-storey showroom in New Jersey was the brand’s first store in the US

Another milestone moment was the brand’s debut at Paris Haute Couture Week – Fall/Winter 2023-2024 with its internationally styled Tales of Mystique collection. It was an opportunity to showcase Tanishq’s design prowess and meticulous craftsmanship on a global stage.

Overwhelming response

“The consumer response to Tanishq in all these countries has been nothing less than heart-warming,” says Mr Markose. “The combination of a wide choice of differentiated jewellery with truly warm and relatable service has resulted in us receiving unprecedented net promoter scores in the high 70s and 80s and even 90s, and Google My Business scores of 4.5 to 5 across all our stores.” Images shared by the company’s executives on social media during the 2023 Dhanteras festival show long – but happy – queues of customers waiting to enter the Tanishq showroom in Dallas.

Tanishq has found that diaspora Indians in the US are not very different from their resident counterparts, especially in their preference for 22 karat gold jewellery, 18 carat diamond jewellery, and in demanding a price breakup into gold weight and rate and diamond cost when making purchases. This diverges from the local market practice of a uniform consumer price (UCP) and the preference for diamonds and white gold as the primary metal.

.“However,” says Mr Markose, “being higher income, they are at higher life stages in the category and, therefore, purchase much more diamond than gold jewellery and more contemporary than traditional pieces. Their average ticket sizes are also substantially higher than the Indian average.”

As part of its plans to expand globally using an omni-channel approach, Tanishq has launched e-commerce stores that also serve customers in overseas markets and has found that online behaviour varies as per the market. While there is a preference for ‘browse online, buy at shop’ in city-states like Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Singapore, customers in the US prefer to buy online directly. serves the Gulf market, while and serve the US and Singapore markets respectively.

The Tanishq way

Tanishq has been a pioneer in bringing transparency, technology and enhanced customer service standards to the then unorganised jewellery retail industry in India. It introduced the Karatmeter, a machine that buyers can use to check the purity of gold, as well as innovative loyalty and exchange programmes, which were relatively unheard of in the sector. The company has brought these distinctive standards or ‘Tanishq Promises’, and other best practices to its international markets as well, showcasing the trust and reliability it has long been associated with in India.

“The unequivocal consumer voice has been that we love the way we are treated and the experience we get at Tanishq stores, and we will keep coming back for more."

“In all the markets we’ve entered, the industry has had to respond by following our practices, like pricing transparency, improving their service, and offering exchange policies as good and equal to the Tanishq Exchange Policy,” says Mr Markose. “Tanishq has become the benchmark Indian jeweller.” This has had a multiplier effect on Tanishq itself: “The unequivocal consumer voice has been that we love the way we are treated and the experience we get at Tanishq stores, and we will keep coming back for more,” he says.

Partnering for success

While three stores in the UAE are fully owned by Tanishq, in other locations, the company has followed its general strategy of working with partners. “The partners bring in a great deal of market understanding, and we have always prized working with partners,” says Mr Markose. “In India, some of them are now second and third generation of family franchisees and some have expanded from one Titan business line to another. We are pursuing the same route for our international business. There is also a lot of interest from our Indian partners as well as their extended family who are settled outside India. We have also been able to attract new large regional partners with terrific standing and retail capabilities.” Despite the different operating models, the brand ensures the customer experience remains the same in all stores across the world. “The same team trains all the staff,” Mr Markose emphasises.

The Frisco store in the US brings artfully crafted jewellery to the Indian diaspora

A lot of the sourcing continues to be from India, even as Tanishq has started sourcing locally in Dubai. A transnational logistics and supply chain ensures that the company can serve its stores very quickly and efficiently. In this too, Tanishq’s approach of working closely with franchisees for their understanding of the local market has paid off. “They have helped in getting things first-time right and in scaling up so quickly, given that we started as recently as 2020,” says Mr Markose.

Strengthening the international supply chain are bilateral agreements like the 2022 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that India has with the UAE, which eliminated the 5% duty that was charged for Indian jewellery imports. “Consequently, India is now the largest jewellery supplier to the UAE. This is a win-win for both countries,” says Mr Markose.

With its extensive expertise, knowledge of the jewellery industry, trusted reputation and accelerated growth strategy that aims to follow the rising Indian diaspora around the world, Tanishq is well on its way to establishing itself as a global leader in fine jewellery. 

- Haroon Bijli

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